I attended my first social media gathering in Redmond at the Microsoft Conference Center on Thursday, April 15th, called Social Media 201. Plan to review the conference site for a wealth of resources, including a list of speakers and their respective Twitter handles. This event was spearheaded by a group of nationally recognized and socially savvy entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The classroom filled to capacity with a few hundred people, forming a microcosm of Puget Sound regional businesses. The event, described as delivering the next step in the evolution of social media knowledge, was attended by everyone from newbies (like myself) to highly experienced players in the space.
I learned a variety of lessons and will share a few key insights in this post. First of all, get ready to jump in, because there is plenty of water in the pool. There are an incredible number of users already involved in this arena. Facebook currently has 450 million users and 1.5 million Business Fan Pages and 20 million FB users join Fan Pages daily. As for LinkedIn, 67,000 people join daily. Twitter has 75 million users with 50 million tweets (or messages) sent daily. (Sources: Weaver SM201 presentation deck and via Sharon Gaudin post on Computer World.com)
Having said “go” (not that you needed permission), I will add that you do need to do your homework and learn from experienced peers, social media experts, books published on this topic, conferences, webinars, etc. Keep in mind that when you put something out in the black hole of the Internet, it can have a viral and immortal quality that may ultimately hinder your efforts to build your business and your reputation. Some strategies to consider as you put your toe in the water…
• Clearly identify your business, marketing and social media goals is paramount for success.
• Support your comprehensive and consistent branding efforts whether the brand is business or personal.
• Tactically build (viral, organic) buzz around a specific event, promotion or a call-to-action.
• Affirm your engagement in a dynamic conversation about your business, brand, products, or services.
• Develop a relationship at a variety of strata, from whimsical at the surface to deep into the core.
As in every successful relationship between two parties, you must respect the basics to:
1. Listen to feedback; appreciate the positive and don’t ignore the negative
2. Respect your audience, their needs and their time
3. Appreciate your customers and give without expectation
4. Be authentic and show your passions, interests and vulnerabilities
5. Become a trusted person in their network
Many will talk about the democracy of these tools – after all they are free and almost anyone with a smart phone or computer can immediately begin to play in the space. Yet it does require an investment beyond building your own social media capacity. You need to consider and secure resources to support the long-term active commitment that you make to your audience (followers, friends, connections), including time to engage, money for prizes/contests, market research/intelligence gathering, enhanced (graphic) design/branding and even building a team of professional communicators. Then there are pitfalls as you open yourself up to learn about the gaps in your brand’s promise, your customer service, your products performance or even liability, and how to handle responds to your detractors.
As a marketer, I am excited about my increased opportunities to connect with people beyond my immediate network. These tools offer another venue to increase my knowledge, empathy, network, drive and experiences and connect on new levels. I value the social component of these technology tools as they help us reach towards the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, from love and belonging to self-actualization, as well as continue to flatten our planet.
The content rich conference was all work but @SeattleWineGal reminded us that we need time for play. She, along with the conference leaders Fresh Consulting and Eastside Entrepreneurs, organized a great wine and fabulous fare networking event for conference attendees in downtown Bellevue.
If you decide to jump in, then let’s tweet-up @ecomavenNW.